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the GiGLer

The newsletter of Greenspace Information of Greater London CIC

Nature at Home

Maria Longley, GiGL Community Manager

Photo of a stag beetle
Stag beetles in garden (c) Sarah Wygas

This spring Londoners have helped protect each other by curtailing our daily travels to stop the spread of the coronavirus. This has also, necessarily, affected our trips to visit greenspaces and see wildlife. While it is undeniable that the cessation of the majority of organised survey effort will result in patchy biodiversity data for the beginning of 2020, we are still receiving records from people’s gardens, of wildlife spotted through windows or from permitted walks.

GiGL has long encouraged people to send us casual sightings via our website but from April we started to celebrate the wildlife people were seeing during lockdown with a weekly roundup post on Twitter. It gave us an opportunity to share some of the wonderful photos people were snapping, such as displayed below. Some people have taken the opportunity to spend time working on their own lists of records and organise their wildlife data. We are also very grateful to species experts who have spent time verifying records during this time.

Regular GiGLer readers will remember that two years ago GiGL and the London Natural History Society (LNHS) launched a joint project on the Zooniverse platform to allow volunteers to transcribe handwritten bird cards from the 1970s. These cards are a rich source of bird sightings collected by LNHS members across London and we were asking people to help make this information more easily accessible by digitising the data.

At the beginning of February this year we were pleased to notice that the transcribing effort to date meant 50% of the cards had been completed by Zooniverse volunteers. To our astonishment and delight we watched how the completion rate kept going up and up during the lockdown period, and 432 new volunteers joined in. By the project’s second birthday, on the 27th of April 2020, we had reached 84% completed cards and then by mid-May all of the cards had been transcribed three times and the 1970s were 100% done! An astonishing 1,944 volunteers have spent time deciphering handwriting and extracting the valuable knowledge and we are incredibly grateful to each and every one of you.

Photo of a bird recording card
Example bird recording card

This is not the end of the Zooniverse project. We are currently preparing the 1960s bird cards so they can be added to the London Bird Records Project website to be digitised as well. Watch out for announcements on our Twitter account or Facebook page for when this second phase of the bird cards go live. In the meantime, please do keep sending your observations in.

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